verb (used with object)

  1. to cast (goods) overboard in order to lighten a vessel or aircraft or to improve its stability in an emergency.
  2. to throw off (something) as an obstacle or burden; discard.
  3. Cards. to discard (an unwanted card or cards).


  1. the act of casting goods from a vessel or aircraft to lighten or stabilize it.
  2. jetsam.

verb -sons, -soning or -soned (tr)

  1. to throw away; abandonto jettison old clothes
  2. to throw overboard


  1. another word for jetsam (def. 1)

1848, from jettison (n.) “act of throwing overboard” to lighten a ship. This noun was an 18c. Marine Insurance writers’ restoration of the earlier form and original sense of the 15c. word that had become jetsam, probably because jetsam had taken on a sense of “things cast overboard” and an unambiguous word was needed for “act of throwing overboard.”

Middle English jetteson (n.) “act of throwing overboard” is from Anglo-French getteson, from Old French getaison “act of throwing (goods overboard),” especially to lighten a ship in distress, from Late Latin iactionem (nominative iactatio) “act of throwing,” noun of action from past participle stem of iectare “toss about” (see jet (v.)). Related: Jettisoned.

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